This is the first blog post on the drone versus plane aerial photography debate that we have with ourselves from time to time. It is around five years ago since WEA purchased a first generation drone. In fact WEA were one of the ‘early adopters’, being the first photography company in the country to invest in this particular type of drone.
So one would think, five years on, together with the mega growth in demand for drone photography, that it we would be a big part of our work. Surprisingly not. On very few of our projects do we find that drones work out more cost effective, quicker and simpler than good old fashioned aerial photography taken from a plane.
The difficulty we face when costing for jobs at the moment is that there is a general assumption out there that drones must be cheaper than hiring a plane and on occasion specifically request it in their tender documents. But this is not always so.
To photograph an extensive stretch of road, a pipeline, or a bridge for example, would involve us hiring a plane, flying, photographing along the route, processing the images and turning the images around ready for the client within twenty-four hours. We are doing this every month for many of our clients. You would be hard pushed to do the same with a drone. Granted, the weather does ground us from time to time, as it does drones, but you plan for that.
Owning a drone is becoming increasingly regulated, with the industry learning from an increasing number of collisions and near misses. Professionals are now required to participate in regular training, as well as apply for licenses, insurances, memberships and organise specific land access permissions. All this makes the industry safer, but also impacts on the price and complexity of using drones.
We’re not saying that there isn’t a place for drone photography because clearly there is. They undeniably offer amazing opportunities for innovation, both within and beyond the photographic and construction industries. And we use them too, but for many of the bigger construction projects that we typically photograph, where access and terrain on sites is constantly changing, it is often much safer and considerably more commercially viable to use a conventional aircraft.
Concluding on the subject for now, when considering your photography needs for the next major construction project, talk to us about your needs and we can help you work out the best package of photography that is tailor made to suit your needs.